“I Now Pronounce You Human and Human”
Thursday, March 20, 2014, 2:57 PM

Louis Markos has posted his latest on the inclusive language and gender-neutral madness:

How “Gender Neutral” Bible Translations Prepared the Way for Christian Acceptance of Gay Marriage. An excerpt:

I would propose a third cause for why so many Bible-believing Christians are embracing, or at least not openly opposing, the eventual legalization of marriage between people of the same sex. They are doing so because the ground has been carefully laid and watered by a subtle but pervasive change in our cultural perceptions of men and women. Rather than identify, nurture, and celebrate masculinity and femininity as distinct but complementary God-given realities, our culture has been coaxed—by forces within the public school system, the media, the academy, and (alas) the seminary—to view boys and girls, men and women, husbands and wives as ultimately interchangeable.

The message, though not always stated so baldly, has been simply this: God may have provided us with our respective genitalia, but it is by the creative power of socialization that we are masculine or feminine. And because it was society, not God, who made us male and female, that same society can redefine at will the contours of our sexuality.

St. Augustine’s College Weston Lecture
Thursday, March 20, 2014, 1:57 PM

The Weston Lecture at St. Augustine’s College, Ottawa, Canada, in will be given on April 4. (If I lived anywhere nearby, I’d be there.) Theme:

“The Incarnation, Human Dignity, and Freedom: The Christian in the Public Square” by Canada’s Ambassador of Religious Freedom and Dean of Augustine College, Dr. Andrew Bennett.

PDF Flyer is available here.

Mere Links 03.20.14
Thursday, March 20, 2014, 10:00 AM

We Are Not Just Our DNA: The Ethical Dangers of Three-Parent Embryos
Maureen L. Condic, Public Discourse

The creation of three-parent embryos is not an innocuous medical treatment—it is a macabre form of eugenic human cloning.

Osteenification and What it Portends
Hank Hanegraaff, Patheos

Why Osteenification? Because Joel Osteen is the prime provocateur of a seductive brand of American Christianity that reduces God to a means to our ends. A message that beckons multitudes to the table of the Master, not for the love of the Master but for what is on the table.

9 Things You Should Know About Fred Phelps and Westboro Baptist Church
Joe Carter, The Gospel Coalition

Here are nine things you should know about the notorious religious leader and his organization.

Megachurch Going
Jeremy Lott, The American Spectator

Many churches took to calling themselves “nondenominational” in the hope of reaching a larger potential group of people. This used to prompt the learned joke, “What kind of nondenominational church are you?” But it seemed to me that the religious landscape has shifted enough in America that many churchgoers may not even know they’re Protestants anymore. And: The rise of growth-focused megachurches may be fueling this trend.

Mere Links 03.19.14
Wednesday, March 19, 2014, 10:00 AM

Is God a Pluralist?
Derek Rishmawy, The Gospel Coalition

Is God indifferent to religion? Does he care how he’s worshiped? In other words, is God a pluralist?

Obsessed with Sex?
Peter Leithart, Trinity House

Christians are often accused of being obsessed with sexual sin. Why can’t two people, of whatever sex, do whatever they please in the enclosure of their own room?

Uniform Rule May Keep Religious Americans From Military Service

People who observe religions that require specific hair or dress traditions have to seek an accommodation from a superior to break the Defense Department’s uniform requirements.

What Do Protestants Think of Pope Francis?
Barna Group

It’s widely accepted that Catholics love the Holy Father, but what about people of other traditions? Some have called Francis a pope for Protestants or for Millennials, but what do these groups actually think of him? And if his influence is so far-reaching, what has been the impact of the so-called “Pope Effect,” one year into his papacy?

Mere Links 03.18.14
Tuesday, March 18, 2014, 10:00 AM

Lady Edith and Abortion Rights
Michael Stokes Paulsen, Public Discourse

For many women, the social, practical, and personal reasons for having an abortion simply trump the life of their child.

Iran’s Oppressed Christians
Liana Aghajanian, New York Times

“When you’re Christian in Iran, you can’t speak. You have to keep quiet and not talk about the truth that you know and that you believe in,” he told me. “There is no such thing as a comfortable life in Iran.”

Christians beheaded by extremists in Somalia
Baptist Press

Islamic extremists from the rebel Al Shabaab militia last week publicly beheaded a mother of two girls and her cousin in southeastern Somalia after discovering they were Christians, Morning Star News reported from sources inside the country.

How to Reach the Hip, Urban, and Socially Liberal
Mark Tooley, First Things

I conjecture that even young social liberals desiring to worship prefer churches with spiritual vitality that profess a transcendent message challenging their own worldly preferences. In other words, these young people aren’t that much different from other spiritual seekers almost everywhere who, consciously or not, cleave to a faith that demands rather than accommodates.

Mere Links 03.17.14
Monday, March 17, 2014, 10:00 AM

Quality Education is Not Rocket Science
Anthony Esolen, The Imaginative Conservative

What I’m trying to say here is simple enough. My advice to all of you who are building anew: Do not be played for chumps! This is not quantum physics. Children learn naturally, and if they are treated well, they will learn most things with ease.

Pope Francis on Knowledge, Faith, and Demons
James V. Schall, S.J., Catholic World Report

“The demons know very well what the Creed says, and they know it is the truth.”

The Science of Older and Wiser
Phyllis Korkki, New York Times

Since ancient times, the elusive concept of wisdom has figured prominently in philosophical and religious texts. The question remains compelling: What is wisdom, and how does it play out in individual lives?

Nigeria: Attacks on Christians Kill at Least 100
Associated Press

Officials say Fulani Muslim herders attacked three Christian villages and killed more than 100 civilians. Hundreds of thatched-roof huts were set ablaze.

Abortionist Gosnell Claims Another Victim
Monday, March 17, 2014, 9:37 AM

On these pages, I have written about Kermit Gosnell, the Philadelphia abortionist, convicted last May of first-degree murder for the deaths of three babies at his abortion mill.  He murdered them by cutting their spinal cords with scissors.  He was also found guilty of involuntary manslaughter in the 2009 death of his patient, Karnamay Mongar, a Nepalese refugee, who died at his “clinic.”  Fearing the death penalty, Gosnell, then age 72, waived his right to an appeal.  In exchange, he was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.  Last Thursday, one of his employees, Sherry West, 54, was sentenced to serve five to ten years in prison for her role in Ms. Mongar’s death.   District Attorney R. Seth Williams laid out the case against Gosnell, his wife, Pearl, and their employees, in a 2012 grand jury report that revealed Gosnell profited $10,000 to $15,000 a day at his abortion mill.  Mr. Williams also informed the court that Gosnell also made $200,000 from writing 2,300 illegal prescriptions for OxyContin and other addictive drugs.

Ms. West pleaded guilty to third-degree murder and conspiracy, and admitted that on Nov. 19, 2009, she administered “some” of the Demerol overdose that killed Ms. Mongar.  According to media reports, after Philadelphia Common Pleas Court Judge Benjamin Lerner imposed the sentence, West sobbed for five minutes.  West said, “Nobody believes the truth anymore, nobody,” and asserted that she “treated patients like family” and “didn’t mean to do anything wrong.”  In fact, she said that she didn’t believe she did anything wrong during the 18 months she worked at the clinic.  In an attempt to mitigate her sentence, West’s attorney told Judge Lerner that Gosnell had a “Svengali influence” over his client, who was dealing with personal problems at the time.  (It’s not much of a defense, but if that is all he’s got, what can he do?)  West is one of nine Gosnell employees charged in 2011 for performing illegal late-term abortions at the abortion mill; two more are awaiting sentencing.  Steven Massof, 51, an unlicensed medical school graduate who worked for Gosnell from 2003 to 2008, was sentenced in February to six to 12 years in prison for his role in the killing of two babies born alive.  According to court testimony, Massof earned $200 to $300 in cash per week paid under the table.  (Not much, was it, to aid and abet murder, especially as compared to Gosnell’s $10,000 to $15,000 per day?)

Yes, Ms. West sobbed for five minutes.  As she said that she did nothing wrong and treated the clinic’s victims as her family, I presume she sobbed because she was going to prison.  But I have a hunch that she will be out of jail in no more than a few years.  But we, both as Christians and as members of our society, should truly weep for Ms. Mongar, and all of the babies murdered by Gosnell and his gang of sadistic butchers.  Please pray for Gosnell, West, and Massof that they will see what they have truly done, repent of their sins, and turn to Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.  As I wrote last week, the Father of the Lord Jesus is a God of second chances if we are only willing to listen to God’s voice.  And yet, we must never forget the heinous barbarity of the abortionists’ craft.

Lagniappe – Issac Watts (1707)
Sunday, March 16, 2014, 7:00 AM

This is the day the Lord has made. Let us rejoice and be glad in it! ~ Psalm 118:24

Alas, and Did My Savior Bleed?

Alas! and did my Savior bleed
And did my Sovereign die?
Would He devote that sacred head
For sinners such as I?


At the cross, at the cross where I first saw the light,
And the burden of my heart rolled away,
It was there by faith I received my sight,
And now I am happy all the day!

Thy body slain, sweet Jesus, Thine—
And bathed in its own blood—
While the firm mark of wrath divine,
His Soul in anguish stood.

Was it for crimes that I had done
He groaned upon the tree?
Amazing pity! grace unknown!
And love beyond degree!

Well might the sun in darkness hide
And shut his glories in,
When Christ, the mighty Maker died,
For man the creature’s sin.

Thus might I hide my blushing face
While His dear cross appears,
Dissolve my heart in thankfulness,
And melt my eyes to tears.

But drops of grief can ne’er repay
The debt of love I owe:
Here, Lord, I give my self away
’Tis all that I can do.

Beautifully sung by the Cathedral Choir of the Hyde Park Community United Methodist Church in Cincinnati, Ohio – arranged by Thomas Jordan.

Mere Links 03.14.14
Friday, March 14, 2014, 10:00 AM

9 Things You Should Know About Pimps and Sex Traffickers
Joe Carter, The Gospel Coalition

Nine things you should know about those who coerce women and children into prostitution.

Time to Accommodate the Divorce Revolution?
W. Bradford Wilcox, First Things

There is another reason the Pope and his Church should not simply accommodate this wave: It has taken a devastating toll on the “least of these”—especially children and the poor.

Worldwide, Many See Belief in God as Essential to Morality
Pew Research

Many people around the world think it is necessary to believe in God to be a moral person, according to surveys in 40 countries by the Pew Research Center. However, this view is more common in poorer countries than in wealthier ones.

Underlying Hobby Lobby
Philip Hamburger, National Review

Can government treat specialized organizations as having diminished constitutional rights outside their fields of specialization? Can it conclude, for example, that because Hobby Lobby is a business corporation, it has diminished interests in religion, and therefore in religious liberty?

Tragic Events Can Turn Into Second Chances
Friday, March 14, 2014, 9:46 AM

One of the greatest truths and encouragements in the Bible is that God uses deeply flawed men and women to accomplish His purposes.  The clear teaching of Holy Scripture is that man’s sinful nature must be battled moment-by-moment in our lives.  As one example, the flawed man Moses was used by God to lead the Israelites from their bondage in Egypt.  The Washington Post reported this week that Bill Gothard resigned from the ministry he founded, the Institute in Basic Life Principles, after allegations of sexually harassing women who worked at the ministry and failing to report child abuse cases.  According to the website, Recovering Grace, 34 women said that they had been sexually harassed, and four women have alleged molestation.  I have read many of their stories on that website, and each story is tragic.

Some of my readers might not be familiar with Bill Gothard.  During the 1970s and 1980s, Mr. Gothard regularly filled 20,000-seat auditoriums with Christians (mostly), but also non-Christians, who attended his weeklong seminar focused on applying Biblical principles to modern life.  During those years, more than 2.5 million people attended, and his seminars were particularly popular with home-schooling families.  I confess that I did attend on a number of occasions, first in college, and then several times after college.  I was first invited by an Eastern Orthodox sister from my college dormitory Bible study.  I found the seminar to be a transformative experience for me.  After attending, I remember that I stood before a large group of several hundred college students, most of whom were Christian believers, and encouraged them to attend an upcoming seminar.  To “close the deal,” I offered those who came that if they didn’t find it to be an important seminar for them, I would give them double their money back.  Of those in attendance that night, about 80 came to the seminar at McCormick Place in Chicago.  Fortunately for me, no one ever asked for their money back.  Further, some would later return to other seminars with their friends and family.  (One would pay the attendance fee the first time, and then you could attend subsequent seminars for free.)  One dear brother in the Lord, a college classmate and a close friend to this day, attended and later brought his father, a devout Christian believer.  His father later would bring his friends, some of whom were not Christians, but they became Christians at the seminar.  (Mr. Gothard would invite people to follow Christ on Thursday evening of the seminar.)

As I look back upon my life, besides my parents and Rev. Rosheger, my beloved youth pastor, there has not been a greater and more positive influence in my life than Mr. Gothard.  Of course, I never met him personally, and have no personal knowledge of the allegations against him.  While I have been blessed to sit under the teaching and ministry of some exceptional, godly clergy throughout my life, Mr. Gothard furrowed deep a path for me as a Christ-follower.  During times of youthful sturm und drang with my parents, I would remember his teachings on what it meant to obey practically one’s parents, and his teachings brought me very close to my parents until the day they died.  At a time when many churches were silent and confused about the so-called sexual revolution, he stood for sexual purity, and clearly articulated why God established His standard against promiscuity.  He taught me how to be a good employee, serving my employer with a Christian attitude, as Joseph served his pharaoh.  Mr. Gothard encouraged his attendees to study and meditate upon the teachings of the Book of Proverbs, and I believe that inculcation of those principles contributed to some modicum of success in my professional and business life.  His teachings on tithing and gifts, as well as avoidance of debt, influence me to this day.  On the bookcase in my home office still sit the seminar’s manual, and a number of his books.

Moses, the Bible teaches us, was someone who became nobody.  God took that nobody, and then made him someone for God’s glory and for His purpose.  Mr. Gothard, at 79, is almost the same age as when God called Moses at the burning bush.  We don’t know what the future holds for Mr. Gothard.  But we do know that our God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, is One of second chances.  Such has happened before.  God took a murderer, Moses, and made him the much-loved leader of the Israelites.  Ironically, it was Bill Gothard who taught me that about Moses.

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